Despite the absurd amount of my life I have spent playing video games, one of the all-time greats, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, has continually eluded me. I didn’t really get into the Zelda series until the N64 days of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, and I probably thought the giant world of A Link to the Past in the pre-internet guide days was too much for my 6 year old self to tackle (full-disclosure my 33 year old self did indeed use an internet guide to beat this game). Now, at long last, thanks to the SNES Classic and my three weeks of unemployment until I start my new job, I decided it was finally time to check this one off my gaming backlog.
The look and feel of the game was instantly comfortable thanks to my time with the extremely faithful homage Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (which I can now highly recommend for anyone looking for that classic Zelda gameplay and charm). Despite being 27 years old, pretty much everything aside from a mildly clunky save system and some curious fashion choices by Link held up exceptionally well. Exploring and combat were both a blast, and the sheer number of items you could find in the game must have been mind-blowing at the dawn of the SNES generation. Thanks to the game’s central dark/light world traveling mechanic there were two fully realized worlds to explore with some amazing space/time warping puzzle-solving to be had.
Part of me wishes I had put in the effort to fully venture out and try to beat this game on my own without the occasional help of several online guides, but given the difficulty of classic 8 and 16-bit games, I might never have actually finished it had I not. The necessity of a guide was truly hammered home on the second to last dungeon, Turtle Rock, where I made it all the way to the boss only to discover I did not have the necessary Ice Rod to beat him. I then cursed extensively about how hard games were when we were kids, and was surprisingly back at the boss with the necessary equipment in under 15 minutes because game worlds were so much smaller then.
Having spent over 90 hours in the massive new world of Hyrule found in Breath of the Wild, it was amazing to travel back in time and see the more humble (yet still wildly ambitious) origins of the series. It may have taken me nearly 3 decades, but I’m glad I finally crossed this one off.
To be truthful, there were some ulterior motives to beating this game aside from just finally experiencing it. Way back when the SNES Classic first came out, I read an IGN article about speed-running A Link to the Past in under 4 minutes. It would have seemed sacrilegious to beat this legendary game for the first time by glitching through it, so now that I had successfully completed the game for real (in about 12 hours), it was time to break the living crap out of it and spit in the face of all that hard work I had just put in. Shockingly, my first attempt at a speed-run went near perfectly and I beat the game in 3:35. Now completely full of myself, I knew I had to record my accomplishment and share it with the world. After carefully constructing a tower of cookbooks and propping my iPhone up to get a slightly tilted view of the whole thing, I was ready to dive in again and successfully captured my 4th attempt at a whopping 3:23. You can enjoy my slightly askew masterpiece below.